Interbrand wasn't impressed with this year's Consumer Electronics Show. In its report, the brand management company lamented the lack of truly innovative progress, remarking that while there were plenty of interesting new products on display, there were "[few] examples of brands successfully solving a real need."
Nearly all of the major electronics companies were at this year's trade show, demonstrating a variety of new gadgets, including high-end TVs, music players, and speakers. Interbrand, however, believes that few of these products were anything more than tech-driven novelties.
The single best example may be Sony's new Walkman. The Walkman NW-ZX2 is an mp3 player distinguished by its ability to output ultra high-resolution sound, primarily lossless audio tracks, but also upscaled mp3 files.
The problem, however, is that the NW-ZX2 doesn't really solve a problem. For most people, standard 320kbps mp3s (the sort generally offered by streaming services and sold on digital storefronts) are virtually indistinguishable from lossless tracks. Even if the difference is noticeable, it hardly justifies the $1,000+ price tag. Sony will probably sell a fair number of NW-ZX2s, but only to the most dedicated audiophiles -- it isn't a product poised to make a major impact on the consumer electronics industry.
Intel's CES presentation centered on RealSense, a new technology that allows equipped cameras to see the world in 3D. Intel believes RealSense could have a meaningful impact on the PC space, but in its current form, it seems to be nothing more than a shallow gimmick.
Dell's new Venue 8 7000 tablet, for example, includes Intel's technology: pictures taken with the Venue's camera automatically scale to show distances. (A snapshot of a sofa, for example, reveals its length and width -- at least in theory.) Yet, in its review of the Venue 8 7000, The Verge wrote that the feature worked only in ideal conditions, and that, while the tablet itself was a nice device, Intel's technology wasn't a compelling reason to buy one.
Samsung showed off a variety of gadgets at CES, the most notable of which were its new TVs. Samsung's new sets -- what it calls its SUHD TVs -- feature unparalleled picture quality, with higher resolution and better color palettes. But they may not be a massive improvement over prior models and, in some ways, represent a step backwards. Samsung continues to push its curved TVs, which offer better immersion when viewed from the center, but as Business Insider's Henry Blodget notes, make the viewing experience worse for anyone watching from the side.
Samsung's Korean rival LG likewise had a variety of TVs on display, but also unveiled a number of new, somewhat innovative household appliances. LG's new washing machine includes a second, smaller compartment, allowing owners to wash a separate load of delicates alongside their regular clothes. It could prove a useful feature to some, but hardly seems a necessity.
Not a major step forward
Overall, 2015's CES may have been one of the more disappointing in recent years. While the products on display certainly pushed technological boundaries, many of them might never make it into the homes of most consumers, or have a significant effect on these companies' bottom lines.
Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.